Conservation Matters January 2016

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

$6.5 million in state funding will boost invasive species work by TWPD and partners

$6.5 million in state funding will boost invasive species work by TWPD and partners

Texas is ramping up its efforts in the Pineywoods ecoregion of East Texas to fight the invasion of aquatic species posing significant threats to the state’s environment and economy.

Aquatic invasive species are impacting Texans financially in lost property values, lost water, lost potential for power generation, degradation of the state’s natural resources, and management costs. The potential economic loss in property values alone because of continued aquatic invasive infestation in Texas has been estimated at upwards of $17.5 billion, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Additionally, when left untreated, these plants can significantly impair outdoor recreational activities such as boating, fishing and waterfowl hunting.

Efforts to combat these impacts received a boost this year, thanks to $6.5 million in legislative appropriations during the last session, which state officials believe will be crucial to address the problem over this two-year biennium.

“Without adequate management efforts, the problem will only continue to worsen,” said Rep. Chris Paddie. “Combatting the spread of invasive species is one of the most pressing issues for our lakes, businesses and sportsman. The increased funding shows the legislature’s commitment to combating the spread of invasive species, and I look forward to working with the Parks and Wildlife Department to combat these species.”

TPWD, in partnership with other agencies and stakeholders, has been battling against the spread of aquatic invasive plants such as giant salvinia, water hyacinth and hydrilla for decades, with limited success. Research into various management options has shown promise toward controlling the spread of these plants.

Because of the new funding, additional resources being directed at aquatic invasive management include $1.4 million for herbicidal vegetation control treatment, biological treatment, and new TPWD staff positions in East Texas dedicated to aquatic invasive management, including capabilities for small infestation rapid response.

Other funded projects include $400,000 for a zebra mussel and giant salvinia outreach and public awareness marketing campaign, development of a new giant salvinia herbicide, exotic fish research and native plant restoration.

For more information and specific invasive species project updates, read the full TPWD news release.

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